European enthusiasm for President-elect Obama brightens the prospects for a renewed partnership between the U.S. and Europe, even as issues like trade, the global economic crisis, and troops for Afghanistan present formidable challenges. American and European administrations have often displayed alternative approaches to managing conflict and foreign policy challenges such as the Balkans, Iran, and the Middle East – while they work together on a range of global issues. Disagreements about the war in Iraq, greater cooperation in Afghanistan through NATO, and the role of international institutions such as the UN have highlighted their varying priorities, interests, and styles. Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger views the transatlantic relationship optimistically, urging greater trust and joint approaches to conflict; “Europeans want to live in harmony with Americans,” he argues. Building on shared fundamental values, he explains, it is possible – indeed necessary – for America and Europe to approach problems cooperatively while acknowledging different histories and interests. The key question is: what can America and Europe learn from past experience in order to manage future conflicts most effectively?
Ambassador Ischinger is the global head of government relations for Allianz Group, a position he assumed in May 2008. From 2006-2008 he was Germany's ambassador to the United Kingdom, and from 2004-2006 he was ambassador to the United States. In 2007, he also served as the European Union's representative in the Troika negotiations on Kosovo. From 1998-2001, Ambassador Ischinger was state secretary (deputy foreign minister) at the German Foreign Office. He has been a member of the German diplomatic corps since 1975 and has served in Bonn, Washington, New York, and Paris, including postings as director of policy planning and political director at the German Foreign Ministry, where he represented Germany at the Bosnia peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, and negotiations on NATO and EU enlargement.
Recorded Wednesday, December 03, 2008 at InterContinental Hotel.